5 Most Common Reasons of Cargo Delays

Late shipments are one of those terribly frustrating things that everyone experiences from time to time. Estimated transit time tries to be as precise as possible, but they can’t be right all of the time. Things go wrong sometimes and shipping delays can occur. That is one of the main reasons why hiring professionals like Four Winds Saudi Arabia is so important. However, even so cargo delays can happen. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 5 most common reasons of cargo delays, to help you understand the various situations that can influence shipping times.

The Most Common Reasons of Cargo Delays

Although cargo delays do not happen that often, it can be truly unsatisfying when they do. In a perfect world, such issues would never happen. However, sometimes, shipments can arrive damaged, late, or with other faults.

A cargo storage area.
There are many reasons for cargo delays.

To help illuminate this topic here’s out list of the five most common reasons of cargo delays:

1. Bad Traffic & Scheduling

Busy traffic occurs in most cities. It’s now wonder considering the roadblocks, accidents, construction work, and other detours that can happen in urban areas. To avoid that most couriers use various route optimization software that will try and find the fastest possible route. This software uses various methods that are updated in real time to calculate the fastest path to the courier’s destination

Of course, no amount of genius-level software engineering can change peak seasons. Peak season always comes with cargo delays, held-up deliveries, and other problems. Peak seasons vary from place to place and culture to culture, but in general, summer and the pre-Christmas season are the most difficult. This peak season delay happens due to the huge number of shipments and deliveries that occur at the same time.

There are also other factors to consider that vary by country. Certain countries are heavily affected by workers’ strikes. France’s logistics sector, for example, tends to be significantly affected by strikes when they occur.

2. Customs Issues

International shipments can be tricky. It is incredibly important that all the required documents are ready and filled to avoid any problems. This is also where hiring professionals can help you immensely. Different countries have different laws and different paperwork that needs to be filled. Take Saudi customs clearance for example. It is among the most stringent in the world, and if you’re not properly prepared there will be significant cargo delays.

In addition, customs issues can escalate into problems with the law, and that is something no one needs in their life.

A helicopter dropping cargo on an aircraft carrier.
Customs issues is one of the most common reasons of cargo delays.

3. Unclear Details

This is perhaps one of the most common reasons of cargo delays. It’s a deceptively simple issue, but things like unclear handwriting can really set your shipments back. Using pen and paper in the modern delivery industry is not the best idea, as mistakes and mishaps can easily happen.

Low quality shipping labels can also cause significant cargo delays. If these labels are of low quality, this can lead to various reading and scanning issues, and sometimes items get lost or delayed. You can get logistics services too.

That’s why more and more companies are using complex logistics management software that will soon make lost or delayed packages a thing of the past. After all, it’s that chaotic element of human nature that causes this unreliability.

If you or your company have changed your address recently, and have delayed or missing cargo, make sure to notify your providers or freight forwarders.

4. Outdated Technology

Old and outdated software, or slow antiquated hardware are some of the most common reasons of cargo delays. This is simply because old software limits the integration of new tech and prevents access to the latest features that reduce cargo delays.

To be able to track your shipments, you need to make sure that your chosen companies are using all of the latest hardware and cloud-based software. For example, a lot of import export companies in Saudi Arabia use that technology and they tend to have reduced amounts of cargo delays.

5. Lack of Proper Equipment

To continue our last point, equipment shortage is also another critical issue that can cause cargo delays. While it might not seem so, transferring cargo from storage can be quite challenging, and isn’t straightforward at all.

A lack of shipping containers can also cause a significant cargo delay. This can happen due to many reasons, a short supply, or lack of local availability,

Other Extraordinary Events That Can Cause Cargo Delays

Some factors can simply be out of the hands of your cargo company. External factors such as war, fire, weather, and even piracy can be some of the most common reasons of cargo delays. Cyclones, hurricanes, and other natural disasters can happen and severely impact the speed of your cargo.

Another example of unexpected events that can cause cargo delays is the 2021 Suez Canal blockage. This one ship managed to derail world trade for more than a week, causing immense shipping delays. It is no wonder, considering that 12% of global trade pases through the Suez Canal every year, and it is considering the vital link between Asian and European trade. Unfortunate events such as these are major factors in cargo delays, and little can be done to avoid them.

A lot of cargo containers stakced on top of each other.
Many external events can cause cargo delays.

The Global Pandemic

Covid-19 has taken the world by storm in 2020, and has had an incredibly significant effect on shipments and deliveries. In addition, it has caused a massive shift in consumer habits, which saw a massive increase in purchased goods and a significant decrease in purchased services. This has caused an extremely heavy transport load for most carriers around the world. This is especially true for the Europe-Asia and Asia-North America trade lanes.

The issue is further compounded by the various Covid-19 restrictions which are mandated by countries around the world.

Unfortunately, these reasons have resulted in a lack of equipment, personnel, and severe space restrictions on many vessels.


Hopefully, after reading this short list, you have a better understanding of the various problems the shipping and delivery industries face. There are many common reasons of cargo delays, but we feel that these are the most significant.

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